Posted on the 4th November 2012

Members of BirdLife Overberg have used the Elgin Open Gardens event as a morning outing for many years and this year was no different. The weather was great, even though a bit misty at first. We started at Jessie Walton's dams and were once again treated to exceptional birding. Many species such Red-knobbed Coots, African Darters, Black-headed Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Karoo Prinias and Lesser Swamp Warblers were breeding actively and allowed great views. Many other species such as Little Bittern, Black Crake and White-throated Swallow, together with a good selection of other water birds were also on display. The highlight however was the discovery of three Karoo Prinia (Karoo Kortstertjie) chicks that must have left the nest that morning. What entertainment with the adults frenetically trying to hide and feed them at the same time.

Lesser Swamp-Warbler


Karoo Kortstertjie









Black-crowned Night-Heron


At Jessie's dam









 From here we went to Keurbos, the Walton's farm where tea was enjoyed and some members of the group went to see the juvenile Jackal Buzzard that Jessie currently has in rehabilitation. Great excitement was caused by a Brown-backed Honeybird calling in the trees. The next stop was at Andre du Toit's farm Tall Trees that certainly must rate as one of the best managed and manicured gardens on show. Birding has by now faded into insignificance as the plants and flowers were simply overwhelming. The dedication of these people to develop and maintain such gardens is simply awesome.  The Elgin Open Garden Event is organised in order to raise funds for local charities.







From here we went to Fresh Woods, owned by Peter and Barbara Knox-Shaw, where the garden is right out of fairytale. This is like an enchanted forest with huge surprises and fantastic plants and flowers around every corner and overwhelming bird calls everywhere. There were Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Fiscal Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrust, and canaries and Elgin's 'mystery buzzards', just too many to mention.

It has become tradition that we end up for lunch at Eikenhof Farm and sample the wonderful products of Elgin Vintners. Alastair and Frances Moodie and Carin were again at hand to make us feel at home under the ancient old trees. A further surprise was when Alan and Margie Maker joined our table as we had not seen them for years.

A wonderful day was had by all and not even the riots at Hawston that caused a detour along the very bad Karwyderskraal gravel road could detract from a marvelous day. There is little doubt that an outing to the Elgin Open Gardens event will remain a permanent fixture on the BirdLife Overberg activities list.

(Images by Carin & Anton)

Eikenhof raptor

Kindly identify these plants for us









Rehabilitated Fynbos at Jessie's dam



















ALAN MAKER (posted: 2012-11-04)
It was great to meet you at lunch. Your knowledge of bird calls is to use an overworked word "awesome". We found Dennegeur to be an absolute delight with magnificent views and a great deal of open water expanse. Heaven Scent was also a lovely place, a working garden rather than a landscaped one. Fairholme is also a working nursery together with magnificent landscaped areas. The only criticism is that there are perhaps too many gardens now - a visitr to three or four is about all one can cope with at a time and so it would take 6 years to see them all. Nevertheless, local charities benefit enormously from the two week-ends.
LOUIS ALBERTS (posted: 2012-11-04)
Dit is moeilik om in n paar sinne reg te laat geskied aan die besondere uitstappie en dink dat Anton se verslag dit baie goed opsom. Vir die wat nog nie Jessie se passie vir die natuur ervaar het nie kan dit gerus oorweeg om volgende naweek n draai op Keurbos te maak.
Anton, dit is die Karoo Langstertjie en nie "Kortstertjie" nie. Groete, Louis